General Mills Leads the Way in Opposing Cow Mutilations

Following Discussions With PETA, One of the World's Largest Food Companies Moves to End Cruel Dehorning of Calves

For Immediate Release:
March 30, 2015

Sophia Charchuk 202-483-7382

Minneapolis – After learning from PETA that cows on dairy farms have their horns gouged out with sharp metal scoops or their horn tissue burned out of their heads, General Mills came out in support of polled, or naturally hornless, cattle, paving the way for the elimination of the painful dehorning process in its supply chain.

“General Mills encourages all suppliers in our dairy supply chain to support industry-wide efforts that promote the humane treatment of cattle, including the responsible polled breeding practices,” reads the company’s updated animal-welfare policy. “This approach has demonstrated success in the beef industry and we support a similar approach in the dairy industry.”

With brands such as Häagen-Dazs, Yoplait, Old El Paso, Nature Valley, Cheerios, Green Giant, Pillsbury, Betty Crocker, and more marketed in more than 100 countries across six continents, General Mills is not only the latest but also one of the largest food companies to speak out against cruel dehorning procedures. Last month, restaurant chain Denny’s also added its support for polled cattle, telling PETA, “Denny’s supports, and has [a] purchase preference for the utilization of polled breeding stock in all cattle production.” Other household names that have recently taken steps to address dehorning include Starbucks, Nestlé, and Dunkin’ Brands (which owns Dunkin’ Donuts and Baskin-Robbins). Since PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to abuse in any way”—began working with companies on this issue three years ago, the number of polled Holstein bulls in the U.S. has increased eightfold.

“While PETA encourages everyone to choose cruelty-free, plant-based milks and cheeses, we recognize the pragmatism of reducing animal suffering wherever it occurs,” says PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman. “General Mills’ move away from dehorning will spare calves the immense pain of having their horns burned or gouged out of their heads.”

As revealed in Casey Affleck’s video exposé, cows struggle desperately and cry out in pain during dehorning, which is routinely performed without giving them any painkillers.

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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind